Let’s take a quick look at the big names to watch at each level (with our org. rankings in parenthesis):
Catchers: Kale Emshoff (#20) and Omar Hernandez (HR)
Infielders: Maikel Garcia (#22) and Brady McConnell (#25)
Outfielders: Tucker Bradley (#31) and Darryl Collins (#18)
Pitchers: Adrian Alcantara (#44), Ismael Aquino (#41), Delvin Capellan (#36), Ben Hernandez (#37), Rylan Kaufman (#40), Anderson Paulino (#46)
This team should be fun to watch this summer. They only have a couple top-20 prospects on the roster to open the season, but that doesn’t take away from the overall intrigue of the team. The pitching staff is loaded with electric young arms that could make huge jumps up the prospect list this year. Rylan Kaufman had some of the best raw stuff in the org before missing time due to injury. Ben Hernandez, last year’s second round pick, has one of the best changeups in the entire organization. Anderson Paulino can run his fastball up into triple digits…you get the picture. Keep an eye on Omar Hernandez. The Royals young Cuban backstop will be 19 years old all season and could make a name for himself with a good showing.
High-A Quad Cities
Infielders: Jeison Guzman (#26), Nick Loftin (#11), Michael Massey (#32), Vinnie Pasquantino (#29)
Outfielders: Tyler Gentry (#49), Seuly Matias (#10), John Rave (HR)
Pitchers: Grant Gambrell (#45), Zach Haake (#16), Will Klein (#13), Asa Lacy (#3), Adam Lukas (HR), Yohanse Morel (#14), Drew Parrish (#33), Nolan Watson (NR), Angel Zerpa (#30)
This River Bandits team is absolutely loaded. Six top-20 prospects including both of 2020’s first round picks in Asa Lacy and Nick Loftin. A former first round pick in revamped Nolan Watson. This pitching staff has a ton of big names and the everyday lineup shouldn’t be short on big names either. I’m a little surprised that Jeison Guzman isn’t at AA, but that could have to do with him recently going back to being a switch hitter. I will 100% be making a road trip north as soon as I’m able to see this squad in action.
AA Northwest Arkansas
Catchers: MJ Melendez (#17)
Infielders: Nick Pratto (#23), Bobby Witt Jr. (#1)
Outfielders: Brewer Hicklen (#24)
Pitchers: Jonathan Bowlan (#9), Yefri Del Rosario (#19), Jonathan Heasley (#38), Alec Marsh (#8)
This NWA team doesn’t have the same depth of prospects as the two A-ball teams have, but it does have a few names right at the very top of the list that folks should be excited about. Bobby Witt Jr. heads off a team that will deploy four top-20 prospects in this organization (which probably ought to be six, Pratto and Heasley are a little under rated on our preseason list). Even if this team was just Bobby Witt Jr., Nick Pratto, and MJ Melendez, they’d be must see. Add in some top-tier pitching prospects and there ought to be good reasons to see this team play every single night.
Catchers: Sebastian Rivero (#28)
Infielders: Gabriel Cancel (NR), Kelvin Gutierrez (G), Emmanuel Rivera (#50)
Outfielders: Kyle Isbel (#6), Edward Olivares (G)
Pitchers: Ronald Bolanos (G), Kris Bubic (G), Grant Gavin (HR), Carlos Hernandez (G), Jackson Kowar (#4), Daniel Lynch (#2)
Whooooooooo buddy. There’s a lot of fire power in this group. Two of your three best pitching prospects to go with a host of young guys that already have big league service time. I’m still really excited to see Cancel hit in AAA but I’ve kind of realized the error in my ways with his swing. Still think there’s a path to him serving a Hanser Alberto role against lefties for the big league club. Emmanuel Rivera looked great in Spring Training but I’m going to have to see it first against other teams. Bubic, Kowar, Lynch, and Hernandez in the same MiLB rotation? Good luck with that. Oh, and wait until you see Grant Gavin’s new split-change………
Photo Credits: Ryan Griffith (@ryanrgriffith)